I *love* it when the person who doesn't agree with me explains to me all about those who *do* agree with me and why they have it all wrong. Invariably, when someone else tells you what you think about something or what you do with your life, instead of letting you explain it, especially when the goal is to criticize you, the result is sensationalized and inaccurate.
Which brings us to this.
It is a blog article, on the Scientific American site no less, about why the author believes paleo eaters have their collective carnivorous heads in their keesters because research has shown that, in fact, cavepeople ate a lot of vegetables.
I have so many negative reactions to this article that I can barely keep them organized, but let's try:
1. Who ever said cavemen didn't eat a lot of vegetables? No one as far as I can tell. Certainly no proponent of a paleo diet that I have ever run across. Moreover -- and more importantly for the purposes of anyone trying to manage one's own modern-day health, as opposed to just imitating cavepeople -- did those promoting a paleo diet say anything bad about eating vegetables in the here and now?
No, they didn't. The paleo diet is, in its most basic form, animal protein (and fat), vegetables and fruit. Yup, vegetables are on that list. In fact, I eat a hell of a lot of vegetables, at *every* meal. (Yes, I eat vegetables at breakfast). When I was nearly "vegetarian," 30-35 pounds heavier than I am now, with a fasting blood sugar of 97 and plagued by insulin spikes that had me eating meals or snacks every few hours, I was lucky to eat vegetables at two meals a day, usually ate them only at dinner, and never consumed them at all three meals like I do now. In fact, most vegetarians I know eat a ton of grains -- generally, a lot more grains than actual vegetables -- and much of the focus of the paleo diet is eliminating grains. By and large, we paleo people replace those grains with vegetables, not meat.
However, you would swear from this article that paleo = anti-vegetable. Nothing could be further from the truth. But the truth is inconvenient.
2. Who -- other than the person who wrote the headline -- said that cavepeople were vegetarians, as opposed to omnivores? The use of that word in the title seems not only designed to provoke a dumb fight, but utterly inaccurate, even according to the author, who fesses up in the final footnote that he means that cavemen were *mostly* vegetable-eating, not "vegetarian." The truth seems to be that cavepeople would eat whatever they could grab from a tree, knock off a bush or hunt. Yes, I suspect there were very lean times between big kills, but I also suspect Grok never turned down a hunk of meat, saying, "No thanks, I'm a vegetarian."
3. For the love of all that is good and right, we need to find a better word than "paleo" (says the guy whose blog title has the word in it) to describe our diets. That word just sends those who seem terribly offended with what we do (and don't) eat into a frenzy of caveman-centered talk that is just plain silly and distracting, usually with accompanying pics of Grok and family. I don't know if Liz Wolfe from Cave Girl Eats has the inside edge on the use of the term "ancestral," or whether "non-processed" is the key, but "paleo" just sends the naysayers into a caveman tizzy/discussion that gets us nowhere and distracts from the real issues. Straw men are set up and knocked down by said naysayers and, really, nothing substantive is accomplished.
4. After dazzling us with paragraphs about the alimentary canals of many creatures, the author tells us -- to no one's shock -- that we are designed to eat meat, vegetables and fruit.
You know: a "paleo" diet. Wait, what? So this hit piece on paleo ends up telling us we are designed to eat paleo? You know: paleo like "The Paleo Solution" by Robb Wolf, not "paleo" like some press-created meat orgy that doesn't exist. The article also tells us that, if we are trying to be just like Grok, we need to eat insects because Grok did.
5. But, really, who among us paleo eaters is obsessed with actually trying to eat like a caveman? I am just trying to eat the way that makes my body look, feel and perform the best. I have told you before that paleo eating has helped me lose a lot of weight, beat Raynaud's symptoms, get down to a body-fat percentage that I have not seen since my twenties, and generally look, feel and perform better than when I was a hell of a lot younger than the ripe old age of 50 that I am about to turn. It happens that much of what Grok ate fits my menu. I will pass on the gnarly bugs, though. This is not a historical reenactment.
6. The author then tells us how he doesn't eat meat, and, apparently, gets his protein from beans. We don't know why, because he doesn't tell us. He doesn't attempt to tell us that beans are a better source of protein than animal fat from properly raised animals, because, well, they aren't. They are a relatively inefficient source of protein, contain gut-permeating lectins and they spike insulin. But the word "insulin" or "hormone" does not even appear in the article. Really? A nutritional piece that doesn't mention either of those words seems a little suspect, especially a piece designed to take down a dietary model that's based on proper hormonal balance and regulation..
7. Moreover, none of that incessant blahblahblah about alimentary canals and digestive tracts says a a word about "leaky gut" (a.k.a. "gut permeability") or a word about how the human gut negatively reacts to certain substances, like grains, particularly gluten-containing grains, or the aforementioned lectins.
I try not to overreact, but this article is a disgrace, in a respected publication nonetheless.
Articles on health, particularly alleged *scientific* articles on health, should not be a simple exercise in setting up a straw man just to knock it down. Yet that is precisely what was done here: make it look like paleo is just a meat-based attempt to act like cavepeople, and then tell us why cavepeople, in fact, ate a lot of veggies. Nothing about the actual modern-day way of eating that is (unfortunately) called "paleo" is discussed. Nothing about hormones, hormonal regulation or gut permeability -- all critical aspects of the real basis for eating this way in the modern era -- is mentioned. "Let's all laugh at the silly people in their cavemen costumes with their hunks of charred meat."
Lame. Really, really lame. You can do much better, Scientific American.
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